Everyone has one: It usually starts out with something about a blizzard, something you don't normally give a second thought to but in this one, life-changing instance, could prove to be catastrophic. "We were just going to get a pizza," your mother says, "-but the snow was just too much for our little green Datsun, and we ended up stuck in a snow drift!" continues your mother. "We were sitting there, trying to decide what to do, and, you know, this was way before the cellphone, and I think Elton John was playing on the radio and then my water just broke!" They say the last part in unison, looking at one another, putting their hands on one another's knees.
It is the crazy story about one of the best nights of your parents' lives. It details very intimately the night that you were born. Sometimes there's the scary moment where you wouldn't cry, or you were a little blue, or the cord was wrapped suicidally around your tiny infant neck, paradoxically strangling you, while simultaneously feeding you life, molecule after molecule.
To accompany such a story is usually a small picture. You're wearing a onesie, your face is an alarming shade of pink, and there's a small knitted cap, either pink or blue, atop your readily collapsible head.
It seems insignificant enough, a story, and one that is not likely transcribed, but only told to you by the two people who made it happen. It was the three of you, and only the three of you involved in what ultimately ended and began with that tiny wallet-sized photo of you.
I never had that. I know that 24 years ago today, a 16 year old, no more qualified to be having a baby than to be driving a car, was laying in a hospital bed at the Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati, fumbling through my birth while the father of her child cavorted around Florida in denial. I would learn later, 21 years later, that he came in on the last day only to say, "That's not my child, she looks nothing like me," (though oddly enough, I resemble him more than I resemble my birthmother). He signed the papers, and that was the end of him.
That picture? My brother had one. That story? My brother had one. They were chronicled in
And what was I left with? A slew of pro-life bumper stickers taunting that 'It's a Child, Not a Choice'. I've argued before that I didn't get to choose my parents, and my friends, none of whom are adopted say, "Well neither did I."
But nobody else got to choose them for you either. And the person who chose mine, they didn't care about where I ended up or how I felt about it, how it might change my life, how it might change my birthmother's life. They didn't care that as far as my parents are concerned, I didn't exist until 9 days later, on November 11, 1983, when they finally got me, which is my sometimes my mom thinks it's appropriate to send my birthday cards on that day. Catholic Social Services could have given a fuck about that as long as they got what was coming to them, and as far as they were concerned, it was just a check with CSS in the Pay to the Order of line.